Employer guide published on domestic abuse

A new guide aims to help employers spot the signs of employees who are being subject to domestic abuse and to give them some advice on how to support them.

Domestic Violence


The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are publishing new guidance for employers, setting out how to recognise and support staff experiencing domestic abuse after a surge in cases since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

A CIPD survey of UK employees found that just under a quarter of employees  are aware of their employer having a policy or support in place on domestic abuse. The CIPD and EHRC are calling on employers to take a more active role in supporting those experiencing domestic abuse by having a well-publicised policy and framework of support in place and proactively making staff aware of the help that is available – particularly in light of the increase in cases as more people work from home and having fewer avenues to escape their abuser.

The new guide, Managing and supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse, sets out a four-step framework of what employer support could look like. This includes recognising the problem, responding appropriately to disclosure, providing support and referring to the appropriate help.

Claire McCartney, Senior Policy Adviser at the CIPD, says: “The workplace can often be one of the few places that a person experiencing abuse can be separate from their abuser, and therefore the place where people are able to ask for and access support.

“Employers should have a clear policy in place to support employees experiencing domestic abuse, be able to signpost them to professional support and offer the flexibility required to be able to access that support. It is therefore essential that line managers are trained in how to effectively support people in the workplace and signpost them to that professional help, and most importantly, to deal with it in a non-judgmental and empathetic way.”

Caroline Waters, Interim Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, added: “We want employers to be aware of how to spot the signs of domestic abuse – whether their employees are in the office or working from home – and be able to offer appropriate support.

“We know that employers aren’t going to be able to prevent domestic abuse from occurring, but by following the four steps outlined in this guidance, they will be able to provide a supportive workplace for staff.”

The new guide sets out key recommendations for employers, including developing a policy or framework, creating open work cultures where individuals feel safe to disclose issues of domestic abuse and offering flexibility for people to attend counselling, legal and finance appointments or access support from professional organisations.

The CIPD and EHRC are also backing UN Women’s call for more employers to offer ten days of paid leave to anyone experiencing domestic abuse, which they say could go a long way to supporting an individual if they are struggling to do their work or need to access essential services.

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